My dental work is DONE!!  So is Gary’s.  Our Spanish lessons are DONE!!  Finito!  The dental work seems to be totally successful.  Our teeth are now in relatively great shape, and our responsibilities are completed.  We are free to spend our last few days doing whatever we like.   This is our Ecuador journey so far. 

We exercised our new dental work on some freshly baked cinnamon rolls and chocolate bread.  Eating bread from the local bakers (panaderías) doesn’t seem to bother my digestion, here. Something is apparently different in the way the wheat is processed, or grown, or something along those lines.

Plenty of people warned us that going to a dentist in South America might not yield the results we want. The dental work was extensive but definitely not expensive. We are both happy with our choice of dentists  – an Ecuadorian woman trained in Spain and London, who returned to her Ecuadorian hometown and opened a practice.  Gary likes his new crowns, and I’m delighted to have the metal mercury filings out of my mouth. Dra. Martha Guerra is gentle and thorough and likes to educate us on the condition our mouth and jaws.  She specializes in oral rehabilitation and gave us excellent overviews of what steps could be taken to improve our jaw and teeth health.  She illustrated what the likely outcome of not treating this and that situation would be.  We both feel considerably more aware of our mouth situations, and how to deal with them. For that, we’re grateful.

It was good to have Spanish lessons with an Ecuadorian teacher. Being local, she was able to point out where a regular Spanish word is not used in Ecuador, or when a certain Ecuadorian expression is more appropriate than a Mexican Spanish one.  She kept us laughing throughout our lessons, which truly made the learning easier.

Now that we’re done, I feel freer to engage in vacation-like relaxation.  One of my favorite pastimes here is to sit in a rocking chair (as my laptop and I are doing at this very moment) and gaze at one of the volcanos.  Wherever I go, one volcano is on one side of me and one is on the other. They speak to me, and I listen. I feel them emanating messages about relaxing, letting go of North American-style expectations, focusing on the present moment, drinking in health from the environment, rooting myself into Nature and the land, instead of into social activities. They feel likewise, ancient friends.

Roosters are crowing, chickens are clucking, horses are neighing, birds are chirping, breezes are blowing, as I sit here rocking and writing.  Lemons clunk to the ground from the trees near me. I’m in an orchard (approximately 50 years old) with flower gardens interspersed with grassy lawns beneath the trees.

If I retired here, this could be a daily activity. I wouldn’t have to work full time if I chose this country. Since I was hired to write this series of articles for a travel company specializing in helping retirees find a new home overseas, I think a lot about how it would feel to retire here. It is a surprisingly comfortable concept.  The idea of moving to an entirely different country within an entirely different continent, on a different hemisphere, seems as if it should be daunting. Now that I’m experiencing it, that though is not daunting.  Challenging, yes, but not scary. The differences between countries are not very off-putting to me.

As a friend stated so starkly:  Living in a developing country is different from living in a declining country. The U.S. has risen to power, built itself an infrastructure of efficiency and beauty, and is now experiencing all kinds of problems with maintaining that condition.  The infrastructures decay and need to be repaired. All civilizations go through the arc of rising and falling.  In Ecuador, the country has not developed to that point yet. It is heading in positive directions, developing wonderful new and better systems, implementing beneficial environmental policies.  Quito is has a plan for environmental sustainability.  Cuenca has plans to be an international cultural center. Otavalo is a thriving business center for the indigenous society.  The bright future is still in front of Ecuador, whereas the brightest shiniest days of the U.S. seem to be best viewed in the rear-view mirror.

These are the ruminations of a person in a rocking chair, staring at a volcano from under an avocado tree, contemplating eventual retirement. I’m grateful for the travel company that hired me to look into this subject. And I’m so grateful for this “down” time, to relax and take it all in.  This is our Ecuador journey so far!

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